Levi Kreis interview by Evan Warner, Vision 9 Records
There are a ton of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Tours and activities, ziplining, outdoor adventures, dinner cruises, or just a daily routine of beach bumming and great mexican food. But more and more, people are discovering the steady rise of quality musical entertainment available on their vacation thanks to Act II Entertainment. While the Puerto Vallarta entertainment scene is still home for some of the best and bawdiest drag queens, cover artists and jaw dropping celebrity impersonators, vacationers and locals are starting to respond to a broader range of concert experiences. An artist no longer has to have a kitchy show title and a costume change to attract an appreciative audience. As a matter of fact, PV audiences have been enjoying an increase of celebrity performers such as Emmy Award winners Leslie Jordan, Jai Rodriguez, Chi Chi Rones, and our one and only Tony Award winning actor and singer/songwriter Levi Kreis.
With two seasons of sold out shows in Puerto Vallarta, Levi Kreis is the not-to-be-missed show for February snowbirds coming from Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, and all over Canada and northern United States. We asked Levi to talk to us about his growing fanbase in Canada and the experience of meeting them each year in their favorite vacation destination.
EW: This was your second season at Act II Entertainment’s Red Room Cabaret. Did you recognize any vacationers from the previous year?
LK: Of course! And I saw people who came two or three times just this season alone. There were a handful of couples who actually planned their vacation around coming to see my show again this year. The coolest thing about this experience is the five to seven minutes they spend with me after the show. I get to hear their personal stories and how a song I’ve written relates to their own journey. That’s the biggest compliment any performer could have – that human connection made through music. That kind of connection is so invaluable to me. Means the world to me.
EW: What’s your PV show like?
LK: It’s a mix of things. I do music from my Tony Award Winning role (Best Featured Actor in a Musical) as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Tony nominated musical Million Dollar Quartet. I do songs from other musicals I have starred in. This run, I put my own twist on some Broadway favorites as I have a new Broadway album coming out March 21st. I include my own original material that has been featured on television shows like The Vampire Diaries, Sons of Anarchy, So You Think You Can Dance, Days of Our Lives, Mob Wives, The Apprentice, and films like Kiss The Bride, The War Room and many others. I try to make the show very autobiographical for an audience of mostly newcomers. I give them southern storytelling, humor, and songs they are familiar with while slowly luring them over to my original work as a singer/songwriter. Puerto Vallarta responds well to toe-tappin’ ditties and cover songs. That could be death for a singer/songwriter if you’re not careful to craft the right combo of material for them. Then again, I always assume a PV audience is going to purchase the one CD of cover songs I have and yet they always want to take home my original music. So cool.
EW: Are the audiences different in a resort town than they are in the states?
LK: They are, actually. The majority of every crowd is hearing about me for the first time. They come because my award is famous, not me, lol. They know nothing about me. It’s my opportunity to win them over and make sure they leave with a strong sense of who I am personally and what I do professionally. A lot of my shows are heavy on the biographical material for this reason. It’s like every show is gaining a handful of new friends for life. And speaking of new friends, I am getting to know local residents more as well. They have been really supportive, which is the core reason I keep coming back. Let’s face it, there are easier jobs that pay more. And there are a lot of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Resort towns are transient and it’s a shit-ton of work to get the word out about your show. But dammit, I fall in love with these people! As long as they want me, I’m there for them.
EW: I’ve heard you talk a lot about Mexico and I know personally you are addicted to Rosetta Stone, you’re a huge Reik fan, and you’re always watching Univision. What is it about the Latin culture that has always pulled your interest?
LK: It’s the people, plain and simple. They remind me of my people. If you know me, you know I am so proud to be from the South. From small town America. From what others dismissively call the “flyover states”. I’ve lived in LA, NYC, Miami, Chicago, and I can say without a doubt the finest people I’ve personally known in my lifetime are right here in East TN. We are a kind, compassionate, thoughtful people. We have an incomparable work ethic. We take great pride in our jobs. We show up on time. We look you in the eye. We care about doing good work for you. We are very appreciative of your patronage and will tell you. We are defined by our friends and family, not by our titles or items of luxury. We believe in something and live for something. We are a people of faith. In my own personal experience, I often find shared values with my hispanic friends. I’ve always felt a similarity between southern culture and hispanic culture when it comes to what we value. I can’t tell you how much I miss the hard working staff at Act II Stages when I’m gone. We text. They practice their English and I practice my Spanish with them while we’re away from each other. I get so excited when February comes back around and I know we’ll see each other again. I feel like I really have friends there.
EW: So, are you going back next year?
LK: Uhm, can I unpack from this trip before you press for info about next year!? I”m exhausted. I need to sleep for two days.
EW: Ha! You can’t, bro. You’re in the studio tomorrow finishing tracking on your Kickstarter backed November release of original material.
LK: Triple Grande please.
EW: No doubt. Get it done already.
To keep an eye on Levi’s Puerto Vallarta 2018 schedule, sign up for LK’s newsletter. All tour dates shall be revealed.
Evan Warner- V9R